Several people were injured as pandemonium broke out on Friday morning when a fire started at the Durban China Emporium.
According to the Marshall Security company, shop owners were discarding cash from higher up in the building to prevent it from perishing in the fire when members of the public allegedly took the opportunity to scoop their share. It is believed security guards opened fire to disperse them.
“A raging fire, reports of literal money-grabbing, and shots fired – avoid the Durban China Mall area. The area surrounding the China Mall at The Wheel in town has been closed off as firefighters are battling the blaze that had broken out at the shopping emporium earlier today,” it said.
According to Emer-G-Med spokesperson Kyle van Reenen, a total of thirteen people were injured in the blaze.
Van Reenen said paramedics responded to the fire at 10:00 on Friday morning.
“Paramedics, together with multiple emergency services, responded to the scene of a structural fire at a shopping mall on the corner of Anton Lembede and Brook Streets in the Durban Central Business District,” he said.
Reports from the scene are that a fire broke out on one of the floors and Ethekwini Fire and Rescue services, together with Metro Police and SAPS Search and Rescue, had to use high-rise ladders to gain access to rescue them.
“Thirteen people were treated for injuries ranging from minor to moderate and taken to various nearby hospitals for further medical care.
“At this stage, the cause of the fire is unknown and will form the subject of a South African Police Services investigation,” Van Reenen said.
Police could not yet confirm the shooting or provide more details.
Emergency services are currently still on the scene, and motorists were advised to avoid the area and use alternative routes where possible.